YOUNGSTOWN Council seeks more input on lead laws

Health officials have the power to order lead cleanups but haven't exercised it.
YOUNGSTOWN -- City council wants legal and mayoral input before backing the health commissioner and his board on new lead laws.
Council's health committee said Wednesday it wants to hear any legal or administration concerns first. A meeting will be set for next month.
Neil Altman, city health commissioner, is seeking backing on two main topics: mandatory lead tests before any single-family home is sold and support for authority to order cleanups if necessary.
The health board had developed changes to the city's lead laws for nearly a year and was ready to pass them. Law Director Robert Bush Jr. told the department to stop until his office reviewed and approved the proposed changes. Some could have been unconstitutional, he said.
Among other changes: Among the changes is a new mandate that all single-family, owner-occupied homes be tested for lead paint before they're sold or transferred. Disregarding the new testing law would mean a $100 fine and up to 90 days in jail.
Also, the health commissioner could order an abatement and charge the work to the property owner.
Concerns about the mandatory tests, which the housing industry fears would lead to forced cleanups, have been addressed, Altman said.
Altman said state law already gives him and the health board the power to order cleanups. They haven't exercised that authority, however. They want council's blessing before doing that, he said.

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